Immune Medicated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA)

(Formerly known as autoimmune haemolytic anaemia or AIHA)

A condition where the immune system begins to attack its own red blood cells. The branch of the immune system that produces antibodies begins to direct them against the red blood cells. The red blood cells become coated with tiny antibody proteins, marking these red blood cells as destruction.

How does the Virus work?

When the cells circulate through the spleen, liver, and bone marrow, they are plucked from circulation and destroyed, a process called extravascular haemolysis. The iron is sent to the Liver as bilirubin for recycling. The Spleen enlarges as it processes more red blood cells than on average. The Liver is overwhelmed by large amounts of iron-pigmented bilirubin and the patient becomes jaundiced.

These antibodies activate a protein system known as The Complement System. These are able to rupture red blood cells if they are adequately coated with antibodies, a process called Intravascular Haemolysis. This means there are not enough red blood cells left circulating to bring oxygen to the tissues and remove waste gases.

Signs you notice

Your pet will be visibly weak and has no interest in food. Urine is a dark orange colour or brown. Gums are pale or a yellow-tinged as are the whites of their eyes. There may be a fever too.

If your pet has any of the above signs please source your nearest vet and ensure you taek your animal through as soon as possible.